The Ripple Effect

We never know how our actions will ripple through our neighborhood or our community. My friend Jordan Schweiger, a realtor in Salem, Oregon has recently learned how wonderful the ripple effect can be when we set something into motion.

Jordan and his family had a life altering experience in August of 2009. He and his family were backpacking in the Eagle Camp Wilderness in Oregon, when his two children were riding a horse down a trail. It was raining and the horse slipped on a rock and threw both of Schweiger’s boys of it’s back. His son Jackson was bleeding from his head and his son Jamison had a broken thigh bone, a potentially life threatening emergency if not treated immediately. Their call from their rural location to 911 was cut off. Emergency personnel texted back. Eventually the emergency crew met up with Schweiger and his family and they were airlifted to safety. Jackson is now 8 and Jamison is 7.

Schweiger felt blessed and knew he could never repay the people who had helped save his children’s lives. But he wanted to pay it forward somehow.

Inspiration hit him recently and he set to work. Schweiger is a realtor in Salem, Oregon. Everyday he helps others find homes. He knows the value of home ownership and decided to start a project called the Good Well project. He wanted to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Nepal. In April, Schweiger stood in front of a group of leadership students at one area high school with a challenge. He told them it costs $590  to build a single home in Nepal. He wanted to raise enough money to build 20 homes. He asked the students to come up with half the funds and he would match the rest. He made the same pitch at a few other schools. Collectively he asked all the students to raise $5,900 that Schweiger promised to match.

The students set to work to raise the money. About 70 students throughout the area participated. Each one had their own way to do it. Some wrote letters and emails. Some cooked and sold tamales. Some knocked on doors and others sold donuts. They raised a lot of money. Close to $15,000. Schweiger watched in awe as the sums grew and he got nervous. The students raised the bar and more money than he’d expected them to and now he wasn’t sure what to do next. He panicked a little and then he regrouped. He contacted two local chapters of Habitat for Humanity and they agreed to add an additional $35,000 to match and increase the money the students raised. In all, this fundraiser has gathered more than $50,000.

Jordan never imagined this incredible possibility. This collection is possibly one of the largest student driven service projects in Oregon right now, raising and attracting $50,000+ dollars, all because of the students efforts. It’s been so successful that they are now sending one student ambassador and 14 other Habitat board members  and volunteers to Nepal in October to participate in the Global Village Build in Nepal.

So excited when Jordan shared his awesome story with me because it reiterates the amazing power of the ripple effect. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams

Congrats to Jordan and all of the students who participated in this awesome service project.

Share Your Umbrella with a Stranger

It’s those lovely simple opportunities that sometimes allow a human connection with another person. Case in point, last night was the first baseball game for our little league team. The weather, in typical Portland fashion, started out fairly dry. As our game began a massive dark cloud rolled in, literally dumping water on us as we huddled together under a dozen umbrellas. But, by the final inning of the game a gorgeous sunset appeared on the horizon.

I had remembered to bring a warm blanket to the game but hadn’t even thought about taking an umbrella with me. When one of the other moms sidled up next to me as the weather started looking gloomy and asked if I’d like to share her umbrella I gladly accepted. We’d only met briefly a few days prior at a practice game. Her husband and I had said hello and he’d introduced his wife and mentioned she was currently getting treatment at the university hospital where my husband works. After she sat down under the umbrella we bantered on like we were old friends, discussing hair or lack there of, motherhood, raising boys, working, chemotherapy and several other subjects during our time, sharing her umbrella.

Had this complete stranger not offered to share her umbrella with me, I doubt we would have made that connection. Sitting so close to someone for more than an hour and a half allowed us some time to get to know each other in a deeper way than just a passing stranger. It turned a rainy dreary game into an opportunity.

I’m certainly eager to share an umbrella again. Guess I’ll have to remember to bring mine the next time.

Facebook and Twitter can aid in doing mitzvahs

It dawned on me this week that I am beginning to notice social media used as a way to invite others to participate in a mitzvah or good deed. Earlier this week, an acquaintance posted this request,

“Help me out here…does anyone know someone who has either court side or box seats to the Blazers that might be willing to give them up so a 100-year-old woman can see a game? She is a HUGE fan and we are trying to surprise her on her birthday.”

He had posted on behalf of a friend and the flurry of comments that took place literally within the hour was heart warming. People made great suggestions and ultimately someone offered to help him get the tickets.

A day later, a friend of mine from the Boston area posted this…

“OK cookie lovers…we are 14 boxes shy of a big number over here… Any takers? Remember, you don’t have to eat them yourselves. The Cookies for a Cause sends boxes you donate to the US Troops overseas…”

Of course, I saw that post and commented that I’d buy one box and asked her to send me her email address. I saw three or four others who did the same thing.

When in our history could we so easily and effortlessly ask and receive what we needed? No matter what people believe about social media, it does allows people to connect in ways that we have never done before, getting the word out about large and small giving opportunities. What an amazing tool when put to good use. So hop online and join the conversation, perhaps you will be able to engage in a mitzvah or see one unfolding on Facebook as I was lucky enough to witness twice this week.

Don’t wait to be asked…

A close friend emailed me a story that she just had to share. It’s a lovely example of noticing a friend in need and helping without being asked. It’s a reminder I  appreciated since I don’t always think to just suggest or offer something I know I  can do to help a friend.

Here’s the story: On Sunday night, I was checking out at Albertsons when I hear my friend L call my name.  She leaves what she is doing, walks up to me and asks me how I am doing.  I tell her that my husband is in the hospital as well as my dad.  It has been an eventful weekend.  She listens with a concerned heart and then we chit chat for two minutes and I leave the store.  An hour later I get a call from my friend, “I am bringing over dinner”, not, “What can I do for you”, or “when can I make you guys dinner”, straight to the point, “I will be there in seven minutes, it’s a pasta dish”.  I feel loved and relieved.  Why?  Because I was going to make stir fry and my kids hate stir fry and second, my kids LOVE my friend’s cooking. Suddenly, I  feel frantic, I feel that I have to pay her in return.  I look through my cupboards to see if I have a nice box of cookies or candy I can offer her in thanks.  I find the Costco size licorice and I am relieved.  This will be my offering.

She arrives at my house with a beautiful Ziti casserole and puts it on my kitchen counter.  She remarks, “Wow, your kitchen is clean, really clean”.  I tell her it is clean because earlier that day I had blown a gasket and severely yelled at my daughter because she didn’t clean the kitchen “the right way”.  I had obviously had a stressful weekend and I  took it out on her.  On the way to the hospital to visit my husband, I told my daughter it was time to create a chore list with clear explanations of what I wanted done and other expectations.  That afternoon, I created a chore chart on the computer with a fair distribution of work to all my kids.  I printed it and put it on my counter.

I tell my friend that my kitchen is clean because I have my chore list completed and visible.  She tells me that she has procrastinated in doing the same thing.  Her father is coming to town to take care of her kids while she will be away with her husband for a trip and her dad insists she make a chart.  For reasons, only known to moms, she just couldn’t sit down and do it.  Grabbing her hand, I tell her to follow me upstairs to my computer and sit down.  Right there on the spot, I pull up the chore template on the computer and we create a chart for her three teenage boys.

Point of the story:

  1. You don’t need to give a gift to someone immediately after he/she gives a gift to you or does a Mitzvah, WHY?
  2. Because we each have unique skills and abilities to help those in need at the right time and the right place.
  3. Most important, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to opportunities to do a mitzvah and the magic will happen.

Thanks Kim for sharing your insight! It’s a wonderful reminder.